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Archive for August, 2009

pendants, pendants, pendants, images of ybonesy's pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
Pendants, pendants, pendants, ybonesy’s pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Remember that television commercial from the 1970s where one boy’s walking along eating peanut butter out of a jar, and another boy walks around the corner eating a chocolate bar? They both spy a pretty girl and–BOOM!–run into each other. The boy with the jar says, “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” and the other boy says, “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!”

Wa-la, the birth of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.
 
Somehow that feels like my artwork right now. I’m walking along carrying a tray of all my little doodles, and another version of me comes along carrying a tray of assorted game pieces. BOOM! We run into each other and explode all over the kitchen counters.

 
 
 

pendants, pendants, pendants, images of ybonesy's pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved    pendants, pendants, pendants, images of ybonesy's pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

 
 
 

I wanted to take photos of the entire process of creating my version of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I found that I’m not together enough to document my work and do it at the same time. I can, however, share tidbits of what’s been going on in my mind of late.
 


Why make Peanut Butter Cups to begin with?

I’m going to be in a show on Sunday, September 13, called We Art the People Folk Art Festival. No screening by jury. It’s for regular folk who happen to be artists.

I picked this one because a) a friend told me it was a great event with loads of people coming through it, and b) it sounded like something I’d want to attend on a Sunday in the beautiful Albuquerque fall. It’s downtown in a narrow strip of a park, walking distance to Java Joe’s and the old Fedways where Mom used to shop when I was a kid, the old Paris Shoes, and a dress shop that made what we called Fiesta dresses. (I have two vintage dresses, one from my grandmother.)

It’s old Albuquerque. Gente. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and wonder what took me so long.

The main reason, though, is that making the commitment to something outside of myself is the best way I’ve found to keep moving forward with my art.



What to make?


Ah, what to make? This can be a mind-boggling question for the budding artist and it can become the downfall of any person who dreams of turning their ideas into reality. At some point, you just have to commit to doing something.

Here are two bullet points from my answer to the question “What is my vision for my business?”

  • Own a vibrant and vital online retail business, catering to young and old, activists and quirky individuals of all stripes, people not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and speak their minds to the world
  • Have a diverse range of products, from affordable to high-end. Products will include paintings, three-dimensional pieces of art, tile pendant jewelry, note cards, paper products, t-shirts, and other print-on-demand and/or handmade items (all made with my doodles, paintings, images, photographs, and designs)

 

Quite the mouthful, eh? That’s not even the whole vision. Given the current venue and deadline, I narrowed my current focus to two items: t-shirts and jewelry.

And notice I’m not even to the part about the “vibrant and vital online retail business”? Before I attempt online, I want to talk to the people who will buy my products. I want to hear what they think, find out which sizes, shapes, and designs they respond to. This show, and probably a few others that I’ll do as I continue to learn, is about understanding what it is I’m doing. Right now it’s all grasping at straws.



How to do it?

Before I bought any raw materials (not including all the raw materials I’ve purchased on and off most of my adult life but never used) I set up a legal business and got a tax certificate. Again, this is about more than the show on September 13; it’s about actualizing a vision.

The t-shirts I got from a place called Alternative Apparel. Not your typical Hanes shop. Alternative carries styles I like to wear: scoop- and v-necks, fitted, sheer, and for the traditional t-shirt types, a great-looking slouchy style. I ordered about a hundred shirts and had them shipped to the printer who is transforming my designs into silk screen. Him I found by asking folks at Guerrilla Graphix, a local store whose shirts I admired, Who does your work?

Tomorrow, the silk screener will have a prototype of one of my images ready for me to view. I’ll take him two or three other designs and get his feedback on which ones lend themselves to silk screening. He’s been doing this work for many years, and he has no qualms about telling me if an image isn’t going to transfer well.

The jewelry is made using something called “doming resin.” Doming resin is a type of epoxy that dries into a clear glass-like plastic. The epoxy has a hardener in it to keep the substance, which when wet has a consistency like honey, from running. Doming resin can turn a two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional one, and it has the effect of slightly magnifying the image it covers.

To make a doming resin pendant, I first need to produce an image that fits on whatever surface I’m going to use. Since I’m working with small surfaces, I need to modify my scanned doodles on the computer to crop and/or resize them to fit the surface. Next, I’ve found a local company that will print an 8×10 sheet of multiples (about 25 doodles to a sheet) for less than a dollar each. I glue my image on to the blank side of a game piece–I’m using Scrabble, dominoes, Mah Jongg, and Tile Rummy–seal it with a clear-drying glue, then cover it with doming resin, which dries hard and wonderfully clear.

There are many How-Tos on making Doming Resin Pendants. Just Google those words (or Scrabble Tile Pendants) and you’ll find them. My favorite is this video made by Rio Grande, the Albuquerque-based jewelry wholesaler where I bought the epoxy resin, doming hardener, and chains and clasps needed to turn my pendants into finished necklaces.



pendants, pendants, pendants, images of ybonesy's pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
                           pendants 8



What’s next?

There are many steps in the process yet, both for getting ready for We Art the People and for realizing my vision. A friend who I knew since 4th grade but only recently reconnected with via Facebook has done many shows. We’ve met twice, once last Sunday to make pendants, and on Wednesday night to talk pricing and display. I want to keep my jewelry under $20 per item, and in some cases, in the range of $8-12. This is a “people’s show,” and so I’ve purposely selected jewelry that is low-cost to make.

I’ve enlisted Jim’s help on the display. This weekend we’ll spray paint old Mah Jongg trays and a peg board for displaying the pendants, plus I’ll scour a few salvage shops to see if I can’t find a mannequin torso to model my t-shirts. I’ll also start working on a flier to send to my contacts (the organizers of We Art the People have a template for vendors to use), so if you’re a friend and/or Facebook contact who lives in the city, expect to experience multiple forms of harrassment as I insist that you come see my Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. (OK, enough with the analogy.)

Also to consider are:

  • Receipt books
  • Packaging
  • Shipping (when I get to that point)
  • Taxes and accounting
  • Online stores
  • …and a whole host of other things to worry about.

 

I’ve hired a graphic designer to create a logo, and I’m hankering to take another Photoshop class (and really learn it this time!). So much to do yet so little spare time. That’s the thing with goals. You’ve got to be in them for the long haul, especially if the rest of life requires your full attention. That’s also why you’ve got to be willing to ask others for help.

Speaking of which, I have my sister Patty to thank for introducing me to doming resin. She is a polymer clay artist who is game for trying out any craft. She and fellow artist friends meet once a month to do doming resin. They make potluck Nachos or Frito Pie for dinner, then work in an area of the host’s home (always the same host) set up to accommodate over a dozen people at well-lighted tables. They share resources, materials, and most importantly, their creativity.

It is a brilliant idea and one that I am thinking about offering to my friends who’ve expressed interest in learning how to make resin jewelry. Communal art-making. What a concept!

I will check in occasionally on red Ravine–to let you know how the show went and to report on my progress toward this new direction. It will be slow going, but it will happen. ‘Cause I really like peanut butter and chocolate.



pendants, pendants, pendants, images of ybonesy's pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved




-Related to How I Plan To Spend My Oodles Of Spare Time and The Making Of A Painting Painter.

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Princess Kay Of The Milky Way, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Princess Kay Of The Milky Way, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

The Minnesota State Fair kicks off this week and it’s time for our annual State Fair post on red Ravine. We’ve covered a lot of history in the past, so this year I’m focusing on one of my favorite attractions at the Minnesota State Fair — the Princess Kay butter sculptures (I fondly call them the Butter Queens). Would you believe it takes 21.8 pounds of whole milk to make a pound of butter? And 90 pounds of butter to create one princess.

 
 

Traditions Of Butter Sculpting

 
Butter sculpting is a long-time tradition at many State Fairs. The first recorded North American sculpture was created by Carolyn Brooks for the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In 1910, the first Buttercow was created by a sculptor only recorded as Mr. Daniels at the Iowa State Fair. Though the Midwest Dairy Association and its 5000 dairy farmers sponsor butter sculpting at State Fairs in 9 states (including North Dakota), sculpting in front of Fair-goers using a live model is unique to Minnesota (click for slideshow of past butter sculptures from Iowa and Minnesota).

This year marks artist Linda Christensen’s 38th year creating butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair. Carving busts from butter is no easy task. The dizzying temperature inside the rotating booth is a cool 40°F (notice the sitting Princess is wearing mittens?). Linda spends 6 to 8 hours on her feet to complete one sculpture. She builds her body of work on a long tradition of American frontier women from the 1800’s who molded and imprinted their homemade butter.

Butter sculptures were first featured at the Minnesota State Fair from 1898 through 1927 to highlight Minnesota’s claim as the “Butter Capital of the Nation.” In 1965, the American Dairy Association of Minnesota began its tradition of having the likeness of the dairy princess sculpted in butter and constructed a booth which was expanded in 2008 for better viewing.

While researching this piece, I also discovered that butter sculpting is a Tibetan tradition that goes back 400 years. Butter sculpture originated from Tibet and was introduced to the Tar Monastery, also known as Kumbum Monastery, in the early 17th century. Originally made with pure yak and goat milk butter as the raw material, the sculptures were hand formed and painted with mineral dyes.

They were created as symbols and secret offerings for the Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations, and sometimes depicted stories about the life of Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), the founder of Buddhism. Today monks create traditional butter sculptures with staples of the Tibetan diet: barley flour, butter (mixed with a little wax) and water.

 
 

Dairy Princess Alysha Thompson, Sculptor Linda Christensen At Work, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Princess Kay of the Milky Way Butter Sculptures

 
The Princess Kay of the Milky Way coronation ceremony at the State Fair band shell on August 26th at 8:30 p.m. kicks off this year’s Minnesota State Fair. Reigning Princess Kay Kristy Mussman will pass the crown (don’t you think the winning Princess should be crowned a Queen?).

On opening day, August 27th, the newly crowned Princess Kay will spend up to 8 hours in the rotating butter sculpture booth in the Dairy Building having her likeness carved out of a 90-pound block of butter provided by Associated Milk Producers of New Ulm. The 11 other finalists will have their likenesses sculpted in butter throughout the remaining days of the fair.

Princess Kay candidates, and Minnesota’s county dairy princesses, are daughters of dairy farmers, employees of dairy farms, or daughters of dairy farm employees. Each year, over 100 young women from across Minnesota are crowned county dairy princesses, and 12 are selected as finalists to become Princess Kay. Princess Kay acts as goodwill ambassador for the dairy industry and the state’s dairy farmers, but all dairy princesses across the state serve in that capacity in their local areas.

For the first time, Princess Kay will be blogging from the Butter Booth this year! And you can also follow her on Facebook by becoming fans of her new Facebook page (and Midwest Dairy Association) at a kiosk in the Dairy Building, just across from the butter-sculpting booth.

 
 
_________________________________________________________________

Frozen Pickle On-A-Stick (Leprechaun Legs in the background!), Wild Rice Corndog On-A-Stick, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick

 
Our Minnesota State Fair post wouldn’t be complete without the annual foods on-a-stick list. Here’s the luscious lineup for 2009 along with a few photos from foods we tried last year. If you are looking for the location of specific foods at the Fair, here’s a link to their FoodFinder with a map of the Fair. (Oh, and check out ybonesy’s post on Chinese food on-a-stick.)

The Minnesota State Fair begins this Thursday, August 27th and runs through September 7th. Be sure to stop and enjoy the crop art and the work of Minnesota State Fair commemorative artist Leo Stans. You’ve got one more day to purchase your Blue Ribbon Bargain Book and save a little cash. Enjoy!

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  3. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  4. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  5. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  6. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  7. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  8. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  9. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  10. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  11. Catfish on-a-stick
  12. Cheese on-a-stick
  13. Cheese (fried) on-a-stick
  14. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  15. Chicken on-a-stick
  16. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  17. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  18. Corndogs on-a-stick
  19. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  20. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  21. Dessert Pizza on-a-stick
  22. Dixie Wings on-a-stick
  23. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  24. Fiddlestix (chocolate-dipped ice cream) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fry Dog on-a-stick
  28. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  29. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  31. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  32. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  33. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  34. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  35. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  36. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  37. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  38. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  39. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  40. Pickles on-a-stick
  41. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  42. Pizza on-a-stick
  43. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  44. Pork Cheeks on-a-stick
  45. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  46. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  47. Rueben on-a-stick
  48. Sausage on-a-stick
  49. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  50. Shrimp on-a-stick
  51. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  52. S’mores on-a-stick
  53. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  54. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  55. Spudsters on-a-stick
  56. Steak on-a-stick
  57. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  58. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  59. Texas Steak Dinner on-a-stick
  60. Texas Tater Dog on-a-stick
  61. Tornado Potato on-a-stick
  62. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  63. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  64. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  65. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  66. Walleye on-a-stick
  67. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick

 
Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 67*

 
 

Catfish Cajun Style, Bull Bites, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, August 2008, photos © 2008-2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2009
  (including *4 new foods on-a-stick not on list above)

    Beignets (Sweet, fried dough)
    @Ragin Cajun, located inside The Garden
    Brat Burger (Ground bratwurst in a grilled patty served on a pretzel roll)
    @Ball Park Cafe, located between The Garden and the Food Building
    Breakfast Spam Sandwich (Spam, egg, cheese)
    @Spam Burgers, located on Cosgrove St. across from the Creative Activities Building
    Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split (Banana rolled in lefse, deep fried, topped off with ice cream and all the toppings)
    @Ole & Lena’s, located on Liggett Street at Carnes Avenue
    Fiddlestix (Premium vanilla ice cream hand sliced, skewered, dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped nuts)
    @Wells Concessions, located inside the Mighty Midway
    Foot-long Dessert Pizza on-a-stick (Pizza dough, sweet cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar on-a-stick)
    @Green Mill, located in Baldwin Park
    Fry Dog (French fry encrusted deep-fried hot dog on-a-stick)
    @Blue Moon Dine In Theater, located on corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street
    Funnel Cake Fries (Funnel cake formed like French fries, served with chocolate dipping sauce)
    @Apple Lil’s, located just inside Heritage Square
    Krumkake (Thin, crisp pastry made fresh, rolled into a horn shape, filled with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit)
    @Ole & Lena’s, located on Liggett Street at Carnes Avenue
    • Open-faced Grilled Spam Sandwich
    @Spam Burgers, located on Cosgrove St. across from the Creative Activities Building
    •Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks (Pork cheeks marinated in garlic, herbs, spices and honey, served on-a-stick and grilled with peach chipotle glaze)
    @Famous Dave’s, located on Dan Patch Avenue at Liggett Street
    Pot Roast Sundae (scoop of mashed potatoes covered with roast beef, gravy, corn and a cherry tomato)
    @Main Street Butcher Block, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Liggett Street
    Sunfish (Sunfish filets served in a boat)
    @Giggle’s Campfire Grill, located on Cooper Street and Lee Avenue
    Swedish Meatballs and Gravy
    @Lynn’s Lefse, located inside the Food Building
    Tornado Potato (spiral cut potato on-a-stick)
    @Sunny’s Spiral Potatoes, located inside the Food Building

 

Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner On-A-Stick, Fried Fruit On-A-Stick, Macaroni & Cheese On-A-Stick, Bull Bites, Deep Fried Tater Tots On-A-Stick, Grilled Shrimp On-A-Stick, Vintage Kids & Fair Food!, Leprechaun Legs, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

State Fair photos on Flickr.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!), On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair)Nightshot – Carousel, MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats, food on-a-stick haiku

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Moon over Kitchen Mesa, the moon at dusk at Ghost Ranch, August 1, 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
Moon over Kitchen Mesa, moon at dusk at Ghost Ranch, August 1, 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.










silent Moon hovers
dreaming of New Mexico
she sits for us all




off in the zendo
friends dancing in the middle
slow walk to the end




irrational mind
each day a new beginning
Summer wears your face









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In honor of our friends sitting in Taos with Natalie this week and last; photo by ybonesy and haiku by QuoinMonkey.

__________________________________________________________________________________

-related to too many posts to mention them all, but here are few: Birthday Of Mabel Dodge Luhan, Sunrise On Taos Mountain (Reflections On Writing Retreats), Sitting in Solidarity, A Taste Of Ghost Ranch, and haiku 2 (one-a-day).

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American Rug Laundry, Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

I’ve always wanted to photograph the American Rug Laundry building on Lake Street in Minneapolis. At the end of June, I had a chance to photograph the building before and after dining at a nearby Lake Street restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

I decided to do a photographic study from different angles, at dusk and by night. I’m a long-time fan of vintage neon signs and couldn’t decide which photographs to post, so I left most of them in my Flickr set. The graphic elements make the sign come alive: the rusted screen, angled chains, and black-tipped pins that looks like a larger version of pins a seamstress might use. I am also drawn to the vintage typography. Do you have a favorite shot?

The American Rug Laundry was established in 1895 and is the largest and oldest rug cleaning and carpet repair facility in the Upper Midwest. Large floor rugs used to be hand-delivered and there are some wonderful historic black and white photographs from the 1920’s all the way up to 1954 on their site.

There is also a FAQs page where you can learn some of the differences between handmade and machine made rugs. One of the most obvious differences is that in a hand knotted rug, the fringe is part of the rug and not sewn on as an extension. Another difference is that tufted rugs are almost always covered with a cotton/canvas backing, while the pattern is clearly visible on the backside of hand knotted rugs.

Since our current home has wall-to-wall carpet, we have a handmade rug from Liz’s childhood (last cleaned at the American Rug Laundry) stored in our attic. But I think our next house will have hardwood floors. Which do you prefer?

 
 

Lake Street At Night, American Rug Laundry Chains, American Rug Laundry Clearance, Dusk At American Rug Laundry, Cash & Carry, Sign Study – Rug Laundry, Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

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Woodstock On Vinyl, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
For last week’s 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I spent a few hours in the studio listening to a vintage copy of the original 3-set Woodstock album on vinyl. Then Liz and I met up with a fellow group of geocachers at the Lake Harriet Band Shell for a potluck and the live music of Woodstock Re-Rocked.

Providence conspired in our favor. Liz’s “parking angels” were in full swing when we drove into the only spot left in the jammed lot next to the band shell. The wind shifted and ferocious bundles of black storm clouds heading straight for us diverted west. We opened our portable lawn chairs, slipped a few flowers in our hair, and rocked out to Santana, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Canned Heat, and Jimi Hendrix.

Liz wore patchouli and a tie dye T-shirt. The air temperature was a cool 72 degrees and at dusk we wrapped up in blankets. The Music in the Parks concert event coordinator broke out in her version of Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz right before the outdoor screening of an expanded edition of Woodstock. Released on June 9, 2009 in Blu-Ray and DVD, the remastered 40th Anniversary Edition of the film features 19 new performances, adding two extra hours of rare footage.

 

The Woodstock concert was billed as An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music. The Woodstock “dove” symbol was originally drawn as a catbird.

Here are a few other fun facts that were read aloud at Lake Harriet before the film rolled. (I jotted them down in one of my new pocket notebooks):

 

  • people who abandoned their cars walked an average of 15 miles to the stage
  • 250,000 people never made it to Woodstock that day
  • 17 miles of bumper to bumper traffic piled up
  • $18 was the 3-day price of admission
  • 18 doctors saw 6000 patients with 50 additional doctors flown in from NYC
  • only 33 people were arrested for drug charges
  • there were 15 cauldrons of rice-raisin combo made by Lisa Law and the Hog Farm
  • 60 public telephones
  • a lone 80 foot stage
  • 150 volunteer cops, 346 NYC policemen who volunteered
  • 450 unfenced cows
  • 600 portable toilets
  • 1300 lbs of food ferried in by emergency copters
  • cost was $50,000 to use Yasgur’s farm
  • 315,000 feet of film was shot, 120 hours straight through
  • 1/2 million long distance calls made first day of festival
  • 1/2 million franks eaten the first day

 

In 1996, the movie Woodstock was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” I was too young to attend the concert. But the year I entered high school, the movie Woodstock was released and 400,000 ripples from Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm could be heard echoing through the halls of Red Land. We are still celebrating the music 40 years later.

Yet I have to be honest — after almost 45 minutes of long, drawn out guitar riffs from the Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, we left before the screening ended. It was already 11:30 p.m. and Liz had to work early the next morning. Maybe I’m getting too old to make it through two extra hours of Woodstock. Still, when we drove by the shadow of the Lake Creature on our way home, we felt peaceful and full from the experience, a Summer night of music in the park with Woodstock fans, old and young.

 
 

 
 

I’m looking forward to Ang Lee’s new film Taking Woodstock scheduled to be released August 28th. The movie is based on the memoirs and memories of Elliot Tiber. In 1969, Tiber was an interior designer in Greenwich Village. That June he’d been at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Village, when patrons fought back against police brutality, touching off the modern Gay Rights movement.

Elliot Tiber felt empowered by Stonewall but still staked to the family business – a run-down Catskills motel called the El Monaco. He moved back to save the motel and became instrumental to Woodstock by offering a permit and connecting Michael Lang of Woodstock Ventures with Max Yasgur, gestures that would mark his place in Woodstock history.

I want to wrap up with my favorite piece of nostalgia about the concert. The iconic cover of Woodstock was shot by photographer Burk Uzzle, a Life magazine alumnus and a member of the elite Magnum photo agency (Uzzle also shot the funerals of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy). During a year of great violence, the 1969 photo exudes a sense of peace.

The couple in the famous photograph, Nick Ercoline and Bobbi Kelly, are still together (here’s what they look like now). They had dated for only 10 weeks when their photo was taken by Uzzle (unknown to them until the Woodstock album came out). Nick and Bobbi, now 60 years old, married two summers after Woodstock and are going strong.

To me, that’s what Woodstock was really about.

The love.

 

 

Woodstock At The Lake Harriet Band Shell, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Resources:

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

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By Bob Chrisman

 
 

May 2, 2009 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of my father’s death. He died physically that day, but he had died to most everyone a long time before that. In March 1969 he punched the time clock as he left work. He felt a numbness speed through his left side. He stumbled to a doorway to brace himself and waited for coworkers to find him.

They brought him home because he told them to take him there, not to the hospital. They carried him from the car, up the three sets of stairs and into the front room where they sat him on the sofa. My mother called an ambulance. “I’m going with your father. You drive up later.”

My world crumbled that day when God answered my prayers and struck my father down. I hated him for a variety of unclear reasons. He didn’t love me. He wanted nothing to do with me. He wasn’t good to my mother. Despite all these vague, but strong reasons, the guilt built inside me. I asked myself repeatedly,  “What have I done?”

The doctors ran tests. They diagnosed a relatively small stroke and couldn’t understand why his physical condition didn’t improve. He had retained his mental faculties.

They transferred him to the university hospital in Columbia. My mother took the bus every weekend to visit him…a four-hour ride each way. He improved a little. I saw him one time there. He took his walker and accompanied me down the hall when I left.

When he came home months later, the ambulance people carried him up the stairs to the house and placed him in a wheelchair in the front room. His entire life centered on the front room and his bedroom. In three years he lost his mind.

 
 
He didn’t know me anymore. His son flew an airplane for a living. One day he said, “My son doesn’t come visit. I think you’d like him.” Even though I hated him, I wish he had remembered me. It hurt that he created another son who he admired.

He thought my mother was his mother. His repressed anger at her burst out. She told me the first time it happened. He screamed at her. “You keep me a prisoner in this bed.”

She bowed her head. “I’m embarrassed to admit that I threw back his covers. ‘If you can walk, then get up and walk.’ I stood where he couldn’t see me and watched as he struggled to sit up. He couldn’t. He couldn’t even roll over.” She started to cry.

“I couldn’t bear it so I covered him up. He had that scared look that people get when they realize how bad things really are. I couldn’t look at him. I ran to the back porch and cried my eyes out.”

 

For several months, he visited the circus in his mind. I would sit on his bed and he would ask, “May I have some cotton candy and peanuts?” He would ramble on and on about the men on the trapeze and the elephant.

Next he moved to his paranoid phase. My mother (who he still thought was his mother) had joined a conspiracy against him. “Get the gun. Shoot her. Get the gun while she’s out of the room.”

“Daddy, we don’t have any guns in the house. Never did.”

“Yes, it’s in the second drawer. Now, go get it.”

I looked in the drawer. I carried the drawer to his bed and dumped its contents. “See, there isn’t any gun. We never had a gun.”

“The bitch hid it. They know I won’t stand for her abuse.”

I put the drawer away and left the room. I never told my mother about that incident.

 
 

People forgot him. He became a fixture to me like a piece of furniture that held painful memories. I avoided him, didn’t talk to him for almost 10 years. Why bother?

The afternoon of May 2, 1984 he died. By the time I made it home, my mother had removed all signs of his illness…15 years boxed up and carried to the basement. The hospital bed disappeared. The commode vanished. I felt like I had entered a twilight zone. “Where is all the stuff?” I asked.

“Your uncle helped me take it all to the basement. Your father’s dead. No use in keeping those things around.”

People who attended the visitation the night before the funeral acted surprised. Some of them had known my mother for years. “We thought she was a widow. We didn’t know that your father was still alive.” In many ways she had become a widow in March of 1969.

 

We laid him to rest at the cemetery in Gower on a gray, cloudy day. The minister conducted a short, graveside service. I waited for someone to lower the casket into the vault. No one appeared. The mourners left for their cars.

The most profound sadness filled me. Once again he had been abandoned by the people who said they loved him. I hadn’t loved him for years, but I couldn’t leave him all alone. I wanted to stay with his coffin until they lowered it and covered it with dirt.

My mother yelled, “Get in the car. The ladies of the church have a lunch waiting for us.”

I looked at the box that held the body of the man who had been my father. The sadness kept me from leaving.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. “What’s wrong with you?” My mother pulled on my arm.

“I don’t want to leave him here by himself. Can’t we wait until they lower the coffin into the grave? He must be lonely.” I could barely speak for the tears.

“Don’t be silly. He isn’t here.” She pulled me to the car.
 
My last memory is this: his gray metal coffin rests on a shiny chrome frame, the canopy of the viewing tent flaps wildly in the wind, clouds move across the gray sky and shadows run over the green grass and tombstones. I wish I could say his death ended our troubled relationship, but it didn’t. More of the story remained to be told. I must recall it now to bear witness for my father.

 
 
 

Bob Parents Gravestone IMG_0942 auto

R.I.P, Gower, Missouri, January 2009, photo © 2009 by Bob Chrisman. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

About Bob: Bob Chrisman is a Kansas City, Missouri writer who frequently writes memoir about his mother, her three sisters, and their influence on his life. This is his first piece about his father, Part I of a series of three. Bob’s other red Ravine posts include Aunt Annie’s Scalloped Oysters, Hands, Growing Older, Goat Ranch, Stephenie Bit Me, Too, The Law Of Threes, and In Memoriam.

 

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Tools Of The Trade (On Sale), Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Back-to-school sales are a bonus for writers. Liz came home last night with presents in tow: three full-sized college ruled notebooks for Writing Practice and five colorful 4 1/2 by 3 1/4 Composition notebooks with marble covers (my favorite for carrying around in my pocket). The large notebooks were a penny less than 4 bits; the small ones only 19 cents. (Hint: a bit is 12.5 cents; 2 bits is a quarter.)

Last night I put the small red Composition notebook by my bed. It came in handy when I woke up at 3 a.m. with insomnia. I grabbed it and wrote down these haiku (senryu) floating around in my head. I had hoped the rhythmic counting would help me get back to sleep:

 
 

Insomnia haiku (II)
_____________

crumpled white paper
word remembrances of love
regurgitation
 
10 sleepless monsters
rambling around in my head
flat Insomnia

beyond Milky Way
a random act of kindness
what it takes to love

 
 
 

 
 

I hope everyone is taking advantage of the back-to-school sales to stock up on writing supplies. Paper products are our Tools of the Trade. What kind of notebooks and pens do you love? Where can we get the best deals?

 

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, August 13th, 2009

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TOOLS OF THE TRADE, haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Dee got her first cell phone at age ten. A milestone year (and an indulged one), the birthday of her first decade brought a horse, pierced ears, and a flip phone.

It was earlier than we had wanted, and I’m pretty sure she was among the first of ten-year-olds-we-knew to have a mobile phone. But it went with the horse, another accoutrement like the saddle and reins. The phone was essential to keeping in contact with Dee while she went on long trail rides, alone or with friends.

Not that we expected anything bad to happen to her and her one-ton animal, but in the event she needed help or even to alert us that her ride was meandering longer and further than expected, we could be reached. She almost always called us on her rides, mostly to check in. One fall day she left her hoodie on a bush near the river and went back to find it. That day she took twice as long as expected on her ride, which would have had us worried sick had she not called.
 
This morning I was pondering the question, How young is too young? Dee’s sister got her first phone for her tenth birthday this spring. The excuse this round wasn’t equestrian safety but rather, precedent.

Em is among the first of her friends to have a cell phone, and among her friends’ parents I am about the only one who thinks having a phone is a good thing. But I’m also in a unique position in that I travel, a lot, and the cell phone has become a way for me to stay connected to my littlest babe.

This morning, Vietnam time, after calling home to say good-night to my family (it was about 7:30p their time and they were on their way home, oddly enough, from picking up Vietnamese take-out for dinner) I continued for about two hours to receive text messages from Em. She always misses me most at nighttime, so as it got later for her, I got more frequent text messages.

The messages arrived in my email inbox—my cell phone service doesn’t work in Vietnam—and always with Em’s little abbreviations, misspellings, and emoticons. She told me what she and her sister and dad were up to (a carwash after dinner), what Sony the pug was up to (missing me), and when she was ready for bed. Then when she crawled under the covers she sent this:
 

I'm going to bed now I luv u  :-( I miss u  :-(

 


These past few days, Em has sent me all sorts of text messages, along with photos she takes to show me what she’s been doing. She sent me a drawing of a girl who looks like her (no, not a self-portrait), a photo of Em yawning, a shot of Sony sticking out her tongue, and just a bit ago an image with these words on the Subject line:


The garden is growing.





Em Big Eyes, the doodle Em sent to me via her phone, image © 2009 by Em, all rights reservedSony Tongue, pic of Sony that Em took and sent via her cell phone, photo © 2009 by Em, all rights reservedGarden Is Growing, photo of the amaranth that Em took and sent me via her cell phone, photo © 2009 by Em, all rights reserved




I work in in the Tech industry and maybe for that reason I see technology as a positive. Dee is almost 14 now and on her third phone (all changes due to my switching service providers). Her latest is an iPhone with unlimited data and texting. She’s also had a MacBook since two Christmases ago.

As is common for kids of her generation, she’s comfortable with technology and figures out how to download and use “apps” way before I can. She learned how to manipulate photos taken with her iPhone into entirely new and bizarre creations. Thanks to that and a fascination with making mini-films on her MacBook, she recently spent her own money on her first digital camera.

There are, of course, huge risks for kids and technology. There are concerns about long-term health effects, especially brain cancer from the radio-frequency electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones on developing brain tissues of children. There are worries that kids are spending more time with their gadgets than with real friends. I fret about sexual predators and their access to my daughters via cell phones and email. (Neither of my girls has asked for Facebook or My Space accounts, and I thank their schools for instilling a cautious attitude around social media networks.)

But the risks can be mitigated by talking with your kid and setting guidelines around usage. And you’ve got to ask yourself, at what age do the pros become greater than the cons?

For me, ten-years-old is that tipping point. Tonight I can’t get an international phone line out of Saigon to make a call, but I have sent about a dozen text messages back and forth to home. And even though I didn’t get real voices on the other end of the line wishing me sweet dreams, I’m going to bed with a virtual kiss good-night.


kiss

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Again Calls The Owl Sketch, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

Margaret Craven worked as a journalist and didn’t publish her first novel until her late 60’s (something I find strangely hopeful). Born in Helena, Montana in 1901, she grew up in Puget Sound, Washington of meager means, worked hard to be one of the first women to attend Stanford, and graduated in 1924 with honors.

Craven’s novel I Heard the Owl Call My Name was first published in Canada in 1967. Picked up by an American publisher in 1973, the book was on the 1970’s bestseller list. It was made into a film in 1973 and shown as part of the CBS television network’s “GE Theater” series.

Near the end of her life, Craven wrote Again Calls the Owl, an autobiography in response to readers’ questions about how she came to write I Heard the Owl Call My Name. On a recent visit, Liz’s mother bought an old copy of Again Calls the Owl to read on her plane ride from Wyoming to Minnesota. She passed it on to me.

As opposed to memoir, the book is sparsely written in the autobiographical style of laying down significant chronological events that shaped the author’s life. A highpoint was Craven’s unexpected rendezvous with writer Gertrude Stein. A friend of Margaret’s had grown up in San Francisco with Alice B. Toklas and arranged a meeting when Stein came to town for a hospital visit at Mark Hopkins.

Alice B. Toklas walked Margaret into Gertrude’s room where she sat on her bed writing letters in a red velvet robe (an image not hard to imagine). Stein welcomed the young writer and they had a long chat about writing that ended with Stein’s sadness at her friend Ernest Hemingway and “the change that had come with The Sun Also Rises,” something she termed “the beginning of his egomania.” 

Again Calls the Owl is a short read, about 120 pages, and includes Craven’s pencil drawings interspersed throughout the book. I wanted to share Stein’s writing advice to Margaret during their three hour visit. She wrote down what Stein had told her on the cable car ride home:


_________________________________________________________________

 

“Every writer must have common sense. He must be sensitive and serious. But he must not grow solemn. He must not listen to himself. If he does, he might as well be under a tombstone. When he takes himself solemnly, he has no more to say. Yet he must despise nothing, not even solemn people. They are part of life and it’s his job to write about life.”

 

“Be direct. Indirectness ruins good writing. There is inner confusion in the world today and because of it people are turning back to old standards like children to their mothers. This makes indirect writing.”

 

“A writer must preserve a balance between sensitivity and vitality. Highbrow writers are sensitive but not vital. Commercial writers are vital but not sensitive. Trying to keep this balance is always hard. It is the whole job of living.”

 

“When one writes a thing — when you discover and then put it down, which is the essence of discovering it — one is done with it. What people get out of it is none of the writer’s business.”

 

“Every writer is self-conscious. It’s one reason he is a writer. And he is lonely. If you know three writers in a lifetime, that is a great many.”

 

“You do not have to write what the editors want. You can write what you want and if you develop sufficient craftsmanship, you can sell it, too. I want you to write for the Saturday Evening Post. It demands the best craftsmanship.”

 

  -Gertrude Stein from Again Calls the Owl by Margaret Craven, Dell Publishing, 1980

 

_________________________________________________________________

Though Gertrude asked Margaret to stay in touch, she never contacted Stein again. I recently learned from Bo’s blog Seeded Earth that there is a statue of Gertrude Stein in New York City’s Bryant Park. Much to my amazement, it was the first public statue of an American woman placed in the whole of New York City — it was installed in 1992. (Here’s the link to view Bo’s photograph of Gertrude at Seeded Earth and read more about the sculpture.)

I see Craven’s euphoria about her visit with Stein much the way I feel when I go and hear Nikki Giovanni, Ann Patchett, Patricia Smith, Steve Almond, or Mary Oliver talk about their work and have a chance to shake their hands when they sign my books. Or when our Poetry and Meditation Group receives a card from Billy Collins, Gary Soto, or Robert Bly.

It is the same joy I feel from the privilege of having studied with Natalie Goldberg. The things she has taught me about the practice of writing are immeasurable. There is much to be learned from the wisdom and knowledge of published writers who have already paid their dues.

At the end of Again Calls the Owl, Craven reflects on Walk Gently This Good Earth, her novel about growing up in the Cascades and her father’s life in Montana. One last quote from Craven urges writers to take heed:

A professional writer must be careful what he writes now about the past which could be used to hurt innocent people unmercifully.

I think it’s time my country does what the Indians of Kingcome are doing. We must return to our roots, our own safety and integrity, and I think this is beginning to occur. Our lives depend upon it.

-from Again Calls the Owl by Margaret Craven, Dell Publishing, 1980

_________________________________________________________________
 
Resources:

 

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 10th, 2009 with gratitude to oliverowl

-related to post: Book Talk – Do You Let Yourself Read?

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Gone are the syringes, the pages and pages of charts we logged, the droppers, prescription foods, and red plastic “discarded needle” container with the skull and crossbones. Gone is the hook over the kitchen sink to hang the IV bag; it was made out of an old tent stake. Gone are the alcohol swipes, 15-cent 18 gauge needles, extra towels, warming bowls, and bags of IV hookup tubes.

Expensive medications crammed into limited cupboard space have disappeared. The thick blue folder of Chaco’s veterinary receipts has been filed away. Last week we made a decision to donate the 10 remaining bags of .45 saline IV fluids (from the case we had special ordered to give Chaco’s subcutaneous fluids at home) to the Humane Society. Liz said she would drop the case off after work. She came home on Thursday and handed me a copy of the following letter:


_________________________________________________________________




Chaco S. was born February 22nd, 1996, adopted from the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society in April 1996, and passed away on June 25th, 2009 after a brave battle with kidney disease.

He left a huge hole in our family and will always be remembered dearly for his big purrs and head bumps.

We are donating extra bags of saline in his name. They kept him going near the end and we know how valuable they can be.


Peace, love and purrs,

The S-H Family
Liz, D., Kiev & Mr. Stripey Pants


__________________________________________________________________


This is why I love Liz. She had typed the letter up, added Chaco’s photo, and given it to the woman at the desk of the Humane Society who thanked her profusely for our donation. The intake person was simultaneously talking on the phone to a woman who had lost her cat and advising her of organizations she could contact to help her with her search.

In the short time Liz was there, a woman came in crying because she had to give up her cat. Her husband handed the carrier with their beloved pet over to the intake coordinator. Another man was at the desk to surrender a cat he had taken from a friend because he didn’t want it to be put down; it didn’t work out. He tried to explain. There is no excuse the Humane Society hasn’t already heard.

People desperately trying to find their cats; people desperately needing to get rid of their cats; people grieving the loss of their cats. And I haven’t even gotten to the dogs yet.

The woman at the desk said she would tape Liz’s letter to the box of IV fluids so they would think about Chaco whenever they grabbed a new IV bag for an animal in need. I appreciate the work of caring individuals who volunteer their time to sanctuaries, independent animal shelters, and organizations who care for animals society has tossed aside. There are 81.7 million cats and 71.2 million dogs owned in America. We need to help out wherever we can.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 9th, 2009

-related to posts: Chaco’s Creature Comforts (10 Cat Care Tips), From The Earth, Back To The Earth , Winter Solstice — The Quiet Strength Of Bear, Life Of An American Green Tree Frog, Children Helping Children (And Animals)

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Fried Giant Insects on a Stick, the kinds of amazing foods you can see at the annual Beer Festival in Dalian, China, photo © 2009 by Gail W., all rights reserved

Fried Giant Insects on-a-stick, tarantulas, scorpions on-a-stick, centipedes on-a-stick, and other amazing foods you can see (and eat) at the annual Beer Festival in Dalian, China, photo © 2009 by Gail W. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
The other day I was online late at night Asia-time when one of my best pals from work sent me an Instant Message. A giant, drunken beer festival was taking place outside her apartment, as it had been for several days now. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to get to sleep, but she wasn’t complaining. It was all part of the fascinating experience of living abroad.

Not to mention, the food at the beer festival!

 

what kind of food?
tarantulas
tarantulas??
tarantulas
no way
way. check your email

 

Sure enough, there in my inbox was a photo of tarantulas that you could eat at the beer festival. And centipedes. (On-a-stick.) And scorpions. (On-a-stick.) And some kind of giant insect’s bulbous butt. (On-a-stick.)

Oh my God, I thought. I’ve got to show these to the Queen of Foods on-a-Stick—my very own blog partner, QuoinMonkey!
 

So here you go, QM. I’m hoping you can pass these on to the Minnesota State Fair and get them queued up for next year’s menu of foods on-a-stick. Because if it doesn’t have at least six legs, four eyes, and a hairy butt, it ain’t gonna pass the exotic test no more.

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Photo printed with permission of my good friend Gail W., who I don’t believe tried any of the foods on-a-stick at the beer festival. (Chicken.)

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Not A Velociraptor, Lake Creature spotted in Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, by QuoinMonkey. All photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey and SkyWire7. All rights reserved.

 
 
Liz and I set out on my birthday to geocache around the Minneapolis chain of lakes. One of the joys of caching is the chance to learn about local history that might otherwise be swallowed by day-to-day routines. We dropped off two Travel Bugs and scooped up three caches that evening. Along the way, we headed over to the edge of Lake Harriet to listen to a full orchestra perform at the band shell and waved to passengers on the retro streetcar rumbling along tracks that stretched all the way from Minneapolis to Lake Harriet in the 1880s.

Perched high on glacial debris, Lake Harriet was formed when continental glaciers spread over Minnesota during the Great Ice Ages. Starting with the Mississippi River channel at the Plymouth Avenue Bridge, a preglacial valley runs almost directly south beneath Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet to the Minnesota River at Bloomington. Lake Harriet lies 250 feet over this ancient valley filled by glacial deposits, and is nestled between hills that piled up when the ice front paused in its final retreat about 10,000 years ago.

At dusk, we were making our way home when Liz spotted a shadow skimming the lake surface with a shape much like Dino, the Flintstones’ pet dinosaur, or a distant relative of the Loch Ness monster. Quickly pulling over to the side of the road, we scooted down the hillside Indiana Jones style, and landed right smack dab next to the Minneapolis Lake Creature. Had it risen from the depths of a preglacial valley?

 

Several fishermen paddled behind the creature oblivious to any danger; we decided it was safe to approach. The air smelled like honey, the night quiet and breezy — no mosquitoes. The sun fell behind the oaks, ash, and elm. A couple on a tandem bike stopped to photograph the 13-foot creature. Kids could not resist leaning over the edge of the rails to get a closer look. “I wonder if it’ll move,” one boy said. “Yeah, we wouldn’t be standing here for long!” his sister replied.

 

 

Everyone was drawn to the mystery — the power of public art.

 

 

 

After Lake Creature’s mysterious appearance in Lake Harriet on July 8th, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation came forward on July 16th to formally announce that it was the sponsor of a special art project in the parks with its first sculpture being the collaboration with New York City artist Cameron Gainer who now resides in Minneapolis. According to Cecily Hines, President of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation:

 

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation and artist Cameron Gainer came together because of our shared passion for the arts and belief that public works of art can truly enrich a community and the lives of its residents. We are proud to bring that passion and belief to life with Gainer’s _[ and invite people to share in her beauty while enjoying the Minneapolis parks with family and friends.

Gainer’s work includes film, video, sculpture, and performance art and explores human perception and the notion of “cinema inside out” when you encounter something in an environment and are not exactly sure what you are looking at. Symbolically titled _[, Lake Creature is based on the iconic, “Surgeon’s Photo” of 1934 that was presented as evidence of the existence of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster. Though later proven to be a hoax, the photograph remains a universal representation of the mystical lake creature.

In support of the Arts, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation has also established a new Public Arts Fund to support future art projects in Minneapolis parks. The Foundation believes that public art is important, especially in tough times, and can make a difference in a community’s quality of life. Public art is not only free, it’s accessible and:
 

Φ  inspires imagination
Φ  can be enjoyed by all age groups
Φ  helps foster a sense of community and mutual enjoyment
Φ  accesses audiences that may not be going to art museums
Φ  allows people to encounter art in their environment which creates an unexpected “moment of access”
Φ creates opportunities to reach audiences not expecting to see art which increases appreciation for the Arts

 
  -from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, Public Art In The Parks, Lake Creature

 

Lake Creature At Sunset, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, by SkyWire7. All photos © 2009 by SkyWire7 and QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
The Lake Creature project leads me to think of Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, another public art project collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and the City of Saint Paul. These projects are living reminders of how the Arts matter and I’m grateful to all the people and organizations that make them possible.

_[ has been seen in New York City, the Salt Marsh Nature Preserve in Brooklyn, and Key West, Florida and is making plans to explore another Minneapolis lake sometime this summer. Keep your eyes peeled on a lake near you.

There is also a storytelling contest to name the Lake Creature and create the mythology surrounding her life. What nickname would you give to the Lake Creature? You can enter the contest and tell your story at Nickname the Lake Creature.

 
-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

-related to posts: State Of The Arts (haiku for Kuan-yin), Wet Cement (It Only Takes A Second), A Little Less War

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Fish Out of Water, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Nothing like traveling to make a person feel like a fish out of water. It’s an unnatural act, moving among strangers in airports and on airplanes. I sat next to man for two hours from Albuquerque to San Francisco and said nary a word. Not even “Hi.” Which is how I like it, but my Lord, yesterday on the one-hour drive to Jemez Springs Jim did the “New Mexico wave” (two fingers lifted off the steering wheel) to more people in passing cars than I’ll manage to acknowledge in the next 24 hours.

At this moment, sitting in the San Francisco airport, I’m feeling more bull in a china shop than fish out of water. I checked one piece of luggage but still have a soft leather carry-on that is mostly empty right now but will be filled with scarves and other goodies on the return leg. Then there’s my Samsonite laptop backpack, along with my large-dictionary-sized drawing-and-writing supply satchel. I bent down to pick up a piece of paper I’d dropped in the security line and ended up bopping a kid in the back of the head with two of my bags. Right now all my carry-ons and I are spread across three chairs, like we own the place.

When I went to Spain back in the mid-80s, with clothes and stuff enough to live there for a year, I carried a giant tote bag that was so heavy I had to nudge it with my booted foot down the side of the road. The only rolling anything they made back then were racks-with-wheels, the kind you had to bungie your luggage to, and since only old people bothered with those I used the kick-the-can method. I didn’t get my can even out of eyeshot of the train terminal before someone came along and offered to take me to a guest house with rooms for rent. The guy got me to the place without hitch—I ended up renting a room there for two weeks—although I’d never get into a stranger’s car these days.

Ah, there goes another fish out of water. First off, she’s a she. Not many of us single women around, and for all I know her husband and two kids with matching Dora-the-Explora rollaway bags are waiting for her around the corner. But I suspect not. She has a huge purse plus the kind of ginormous Coach shoulder bag that could knock a quarterback off his feet, much less two little kids. And she’s wearing a black dress, red shawl, and dainty round-big-toe sandals. Not the gauzy pants, layered t-shirts and sweatshirts, and Dankos that most traveling mothers wear.

Mostly I recognize the way she looked at me when she passed. A sort of “Ah, maybe I’ll grab a magazine and make myself at home in a quiet corner instead of wandering about the place feeling conspicuous” glance.




_____________________________________________________________________________________

Postscript: I’m presently in San Francisco en route to Vietnam for another work-related visit—my sixth since 2005. I’ve written several posts about travel and specifically Vietnam; this post contains links to a bunch of them. Vietnam was the inspiration for finishing the doodle in this post, which I sketched in a pencil outline almost two years ago. Fish Out of Water was a red Ravine writing topic in September 2007. I finished the doodle on my last trip to Vietnam.

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